Sport Gaelic Football

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Hyland: We will need to strike the right balance if Cavan are to progress to next level

Published 04/06/2014 | 02:30

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Cavan manager Terry Hyland
Cavan manager Terry Hyland

Cavan are in the midst of a delicate balancing act. Their manager, Terry Hyland, sees it like "the hen and the egg".

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As they prepare for their opening Ulster championship match against Armagh, a repeat of last year's preliminary round which they won by five points in Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan have been seeking to lengthen their stride.

After two years of 'protectionism' they are striving to add a more expansionist approach to their game.

Hyland says Cavan are still on a "slow burner". The swell of four successive Ulster U-21 titles has not led to any sense of entitlement about the future.

"We're not starting to jump up and down and saying that we're in such and such a place. We have to build gradually to get to a point. All I would say at this point in time is that we've steadied the ship and that's as far as we've gone."

But the natives are getting a little bit restless. They'd like to see some more adventure from their team. Hyland hopes to meet their demands, but acknowledges there must still be caution.

"We have started to develop our offensive game. Against Roscommon (in the Division 3 final) we did kick 15 points from play. So we are becoming a little bit more adventurous going forward.

"You will say you conceded more scores on the back of that, but that's going to happen. So, it's a case of where we strike the right balance," he said.

"It's a bit like the hen and the egg. You have to learn to stop the opposition from killing you early on in the game and then try to win it at the end.

"If you can shorten the first process and lengthen the other one, that's the way you want to go."

Hyland said he predicted at the outset of the championship that more teams would revert back to defence this summer and that's what has happened in the opening three weekends.

"Teams have gone back defensive. So was our template wrong or was their template wrong?

"At the end of the day, the championship is about winning. If you kick 24 points and someone beats you, kicking 25, then the manager is going home having won nothing.

"He has to provide the best platform for the group that he has in order to win. So he has to look at what that platform could be based upon."

Hyland says he has "no problem" with attacking football, but is "concerned" about some of the commentary that relates to defensive tactics and the negative connotation it can have.

"I have a little bit of a thing, probably and maybe this is because we've been a little bit defensive, about the comments. I listen after a lot of games and we're bringing in a lot of terminology from other sports.

"If you go back to the comments made after the game last Sunday (Derry v Donegal) about the different types of tackling and bringing in rugby terminology ('choke tackle') into common use in terms of how Gaelic footballers are tackling, I think that may rub off and people are commenting on it.

"That puts pressure on referees and everybody else to say, 'They shouldn't be doing that sort of stuff.'

"The word 'choke' suggests that you're probably catching somebody round the throat or something. I didn't see anybody being caught around the throat last week.

"Okay, if they're surrounded, the terminology now appears to be the 'choke tackle.' But if you've been at underage games for the last 10 years, you'll hear them shouting 'stand them up, stand them up'.

"It's basically the same thing only that instead of one guy doing it there's probably two guys.

"We have to be very careful that the terminology doesn't translate back down onto the pitch and cause a negative because of that."

Cavan have no injury concerns ahead of their trip to the Athletic Grounds, but will be without their All Star nominated defender Killian Clarke, who has gone to Boston for the summer.

Irish Independent

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